Question of the Week – Winery Recommendations for Winter Wineland event

I hope everyone’s new decade is off to a good start, and less frenzied than mine!

This week’s question of the week is:

If you were steering a visitor during the Winter Wineland coming up in a few weeks, what wineries would you urge them to visit?

This is a great question, one that I will answer in a few different posts. But first, for the uninitiated, what is the Winter Wineland?

This is an annual event, hosted by the Wine Road, Northern Sonoma County. I have long sung the praises of this marketing organization, which represents 150+ wineries, in the appellations (wine regions) of Russian River, Alexander Valley, Green Valley, and Dry Creek Valley.  I will write a follow-on article with tips to maximize enjoyment of this event, for now I refer to my posting on the last event, Wine And Food Affair, which still apply.

With over 120 wineries participating, there are any number of ways to decide where to go; by geography, by wine type, by food offerings, by wineries not open to public normal, by your normal favorites.Are you going for 1 day, or both? Generally, 4-5 in a day is about what you can expect to experience and enjoy, unless you are jamming through, spitting, and hitting denser clusters of wineries. Wine and wine country is to be enjoyed, and leisurely, go for quality of experience, not quantity.

As a rule of thumb, the first day of an event is ‘usually’ the busiest, and the mid afternoon on times are the craziest. Plan your stops accordingly, and make popular places your first, and lesser known ones perhaps later. Some wineries and their experience will resonate with you and make you sing like a bird, others may not make you all warm and fuzzy. I think  it’s a good idea to save a winery you know will be a good experience to finish on, to end your day on a high note.

I highly recommend you print out and read the detailed (11 page) list of participating Wineries, and what they are offering.  Live music, food pairings, library wines: each winery has unique offers.

This years Winter Wineland has a record number of participants (kudos to the wineries for solidarity.) I think it always good to visit some of the new participants to encourage them, especially if they are new to you. But don’t forget your favorites and the steadfast regular attendees.

I certainly have my own favorites wineries: for this posting I am going to highlight some of the new member wineries, many I have not yet explored. In a subsequent post, I will write about some of my favorites, and my planned itinerary. (Day 2 is mapped out, Day 1 still in progress.)

  • D’Argenzio – this new member winery, is in Santa Rosa, and is an Italian family offer Italian varietals not commonly produced in this area, including Sangiovese, Muscato Canelli and Rossat, being tasted at a special event this Saturday. They also source and crush traditional Sonoma varietla like Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, etc.
  • Robert Rue – new member winery, in Fulton. A family of Growers now also turned small wine producer -  Currently offering a 2005 and 2006 Russian River Zin. < 800 cases, old Vine Zins. Be among the first to visit Bob and Carlene Rue’s “just opened” Tasting Room. Taste award-winning Zinfandels paired with Mushroom Soup prepared by winery chef Kathy Bradley, and hand-made truffles by Gandolf’s Fine Chocolates.
  • Souverainnew member winery. Their gorgeous Cloverdale property is offering historic Asti Tours at 11:30 am,
    1:00 pm and 2:30 pm
  • New Members Hart’s Desire, J. Keverson, and the Hudson Street Wineries, visit 8+ wineries all side by side, right off downtown Healdsburg. Hart’s is offering a Mediterranean Lamb Stew that will pair wonderfully with their Red wine selections. (good Pinot!) (Make sure you go around and see Holdredge too. ) J. Keverson is offering a Chipotle-Squash Soup with Fresh
    Rosemary and Toasted Pumpkin 2006 Hales Zinfandel.
  • Freestone Vineyards – a little off the beaten track, this new member and newer winery has a comfortable home like tasting room, and makes great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Lounge around the fire, and enjoy!

Haven’t bought your tickets yet! $40 for two days of wine tasting and food pairings! Advance ticket sales end Jan 11th, and prices go up to $50 for the weekend, so get them soon.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to post any questions or comments. If you enjoy Simple Hedonisms, sign up for (secure, private) email notifications of new posts, in the top right, so you never miss a post!

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